Essay on "Gladiator"

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Gladiator – 2000

For my history of film paper, I chose to watch Gladiator, Directed by Ridley Scott and costumed by Janty Yates. For Best Costume Design for Gladiator, Yates was nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and won. The British Academy of Film & Television Arts also nominated her for Best Costume Designer. The movie takes place in ancient Rome circa 180 A.D. under the rule of the great Caesars. Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor of Rome, is on the brink of death, and is about to name the heir that will take his place. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.

Since this film was so time and location-specific, Yates was faced with the challenge of designing costume that, as a whole, portrayed rank, social status, season, region, age, wealth and religion. With research, Yates was able to do exactly this.

Maximus, played by Russell Crow, for example, had to be the most difficult character to costume, bring that his rank, social status, wealth, season and location changed most frequently throughout the film. In the beginning of the movie, he is filling the duties of the general of the Roman army; therefore, he is dressed in a full suit of armor. The season is winter, so he is also adorned with a cape, and a fur stole to protect him from the cold, and show his wealth and social status. As the film progresses, Maximus is eventually sold into slavery in a Roman province closer to Northern Africa. With that, due to the change in climate and social status, he goes from wearing a luxurious fur stole to a primitive tunic with a...
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